If you've ever longed for your home to have the spacious, open look and feel of many modern homes, but are constrained by finances or your home's architectural footprint, don't fret. You may be able to open up your home by doing something as simple as replacing a door. Not only can an open floor plan help with entertaining, it can help lower your utility bills by ensuring adequate air flow from room to room. Read on to learn more about how you can open up your doorways while still staying within your budget.
Interior French or pocket doors
Many interior doorways are constructed so that the doorway can be expanded—often doubling in size—without harming the structural integrity of the walls or ceiling. By installing French doors or pocket doors in certain interior doorways (particularly those between living areas, or between the living room and kitchen) you can enhance the flow of your home while still ensuring these doors can be closed if needed.
French doors are a type of paned double door—most French doors are primarily glass, with some wooden or steel components. French doors are ideal for interior spaces you'd like to occasionally close off, but still allow light to filter through. Although French doors can be more expensive than typical interior doors, they also add a great deal of value to a home upon resale.
Pocket doors are interior doors designed not to open and close by swinging outward, but by sliding into an interior "pocket" within the doorframe. If you've ever used a sliding glass or screen door, pocket doors operate in a similar manner. These doors are ideal if your doorway cannot be easily extended, but the swinging of a traditional door is disruptive or if the door itself takes up space.
How can you install a French or pocket door?
Although installation of a French door is fairly simple, it is generally best left to the professionals. This is primarily because it often involves the removal of a portion of your wall and doorway. When you contact a contractor, he or she will examine your floor plans and use a stud finder to determine the distance between your support beams.
In many cases, your doorway will not be in a "load bearing wall"—meaning that removal of a portion of the wall should have no structural implications. In other cases, the beams will be perfectly spaced so that an additional doorway can be added without minimizing the amount of weight the wall can bear.
Your contractor will then demolish the portion of the wall needed in order to install the French doors, finish the area, and place the French doors within the frame. Finally, the contractor will fill in and seal any cracks so that the doors do not leak air. If your walls are painted, you may need to apply some touch-up paint around the door frame to ensure a consistent look.
Installing a pocket door is simpler, and can be a DIY project in certain situations. If you've committed to the project, go ahead and remove your current door from the hinges. Remove your old door frame as well by using a flat-head screwdriver to pry it from the wall. You should now be able to look into your wall and see whether there is sufficient space to place a pocket door frame. These frames are narrower than traditional door frames and designed to fit within an ordinary interior wall.
If there is sufficient space, you can go ahead and purchase your pocket door and frame. Follow the instructions for placing it and securing it within the wall, then re-attach the new door frame. You can also get more assistance by having a professional come and install the door for you.